A Crumbling Axis? Syria-Iran Alliance Strained Amid Greater Israeli Strikes

Gen. Salami referred to Israeli officials as “Zionist offenders” and promised that Israel would pay heavily for the “innocent blood” it had shed.

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A Crumbling Axis? Syria-Iran Alliance Strained Amid Greater Israeli Strikes
File photo: X / IDF


Major General Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), on Friday (June 7), vowed that his country would take revenge on Israel for the death of an Iranian officer—identified as Saeed Abyar, in Shahr-e-Rey, a city south of Tehran—in an airstrike near Aleppo city, in Syria, on June 3. Gen. Salami referred to Israeli officials as “Zionist offenders” and promised that Israel would pay heavily for the “innocent blood” it had shed, in a statement reported by the Fars News Agency.

In his statement, Gen. Salami praised Abyar as “a glorious martyr, commander and defender of the shrine”. According to official reports, Abyar’s death has increased the count of Iranian officers and commanders killed in a series of airstrikes blamed on Israel to 21 during the war in Gaza.

The Iranian forces are also part of what is known as the ‘Axis of Resistance’, which includes armed Palestinian groups, Houthis from Yemen and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement. The hardline IRGC commander confirmed that the fallen soldier had been involved with Palestinian organizations. He praised the “honest and brave struggle of this dedicated officer” and his efforts against the “occupiers”.

The Tasnim News Agency reported that Nourollah Nouri, an Afghan immigrant living in Iran, was also killed in the Aleppo attack. He had served with the Fatemiyoun, a battalion of Shi’ite Afghans recruited by the Quds Force for operations in Syria.

Israel has not officially taken responsibility for these attacks, but has clearly stated that Tehran is a major instigator and the main supporter of Palestinian militants, aiming to destroy the Jewish state.


The Quds Force has made it a key policy to maintain an active presence in Syria. This force is controlled by Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the main authority behind Iran’s foreign policy decisions. Iran’s involvement in Syria was to support its ally, the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, especially when his rule was threatened by widespread protests during the ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011. As Syria fell into civil war, Iran increased its presence, saying it was responding to requests from the Syrian government.

Media reports suggest that the sudden increase in suspected Israeli attacks has caused the IRGC to reconsider its operations and reduce its large presence in Syria. Meanwhile, these strikes have sparked intense debates among critics in Iran about the costs and benefits of the country’s Syria policy.

During the war in Gaza, some Iranians have argued that, since the Syrian government is getting stronger and reclaiming more rebel-held areas, it needs less help from Iran and may even be frustrated with the presence of its forces. Because of this, the Syrian authorities are hesitant to protect their Iranian allies or share critical intelligence in the face of Israeli attacks.


Critics in Iran have explained that the Syrian government’s return to the Arab League after years of diplomatic tensions suggests that Assad is indicating he relies less on Tehran. In mid-May, the Syrian government supported a statement by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that backed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in its ongoing dispute with Tehran over three islands—Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and

Lesser Tunb, located in the Persian Gulf near the strategic Strait of Hormuz—that are under Iranian control.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry rejected the GCC statement, but did not mention Syria, which further angered Iranian critics and the media. One reform-supporting outlet wrote, ‘Assad’s dagger striking Iran in the back’, while another criticized the Syrian president, who was supposed to be “a friend”, but had signed “the unjustified statement” after rejoining the Arab states.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author.

(The author of this article is a Defence, Aerospace & Political Analyst based in Bengaluru. He is also Director of ADD Engineering Components, India, Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany)

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